Today a structure fire can involve hazardous materials or waste with the potential to result in toxic air emissions and contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water. Manufacturing sites and other high-risk occupancies present obvious fire concerns due to the chemicals and processes utilised. However, so do other operations and occupancies that may be perceived to have a lower exposure.
For example, a plastic product manufacturing firm may not use any significant quantities of hazardous materials, but a catastrophic fire can create toxic combustion by-products such as dioxins and furans. Even a routine office building fire can have environmental impacts from the combustion of furnishings, plastics, electronics, and janitorial supplies.
This article sheds light on the various environmental exposures that can arise from three different types of fires and why every organisation should have emergency planning and controls in place to deal with the potential environmental impacts of a fire.